Posted on Oct. 11, 2021, 11:40 a.m.
Bronchiolitis, nasopharyngitis, tonsillitis, gastroenteritis have been increasing in France since the beginning of September. These seasonal viruses, which the Covid had almost made forget, are back, after a rather lenient year 2020.
In mainland France, “the incidence rate of cases of acute respiratory infection seen in general medicine consultation” is “increasing since the beginning of September”, thus note the health authorities.
If this return of seasonal viruses is logical at the beginning of autumn, it occurs in a particular context linked to Covid. Last winter, due to confinements and strict compliance with barrier measures, these viruses circulated less than usual.
Decrease in collective immunity
Direct consequence: the immunity of the population could have diminished. “Because of this decline in collective immunity to these viruses”, it may be that “the epidemics of this year are of greater intensity”, details the epidemiologist Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin in a video recently posted online by the French public health agency.
These prospects worry health professionals. They fear an influx of patients, while they still have Covid patients to take care of. They call for not forgetting the barrier gestures. “These everyday actions, the fact of washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask – particularly when you are in a confined space -, regularly ventilating your home or staying at home when you are sick, are very important. effective in combating the circulation of these viruses, ”also notes Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin.
A flu epidemic in October?
In its latest opinion, published last Thursday, the Scientific Council warns particularly about the return of influenza. “The favorable epidemiological situation of SARS-CoV-2, the lifting of restrictions on international transport, and the poor application of barrier measures will once again allow the viral circulation of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the influenza virus in the months to come ”, details the instance. “It is possible that this epidemic begins as early as October or November,” she continues.
The Scientific Council also insists on the importance of vaccination for people at risk, who are also the most exposed to severe forms of Covid. “The intensity of the influenza epidemic will depend mainly on the level of influenza vaccination”, details the body which recommended, at the end of August, that the seasonal influenza vaccine be administered at the same time as the third injection of the vaccine against the Covid .
Fears of a “large-scale” epidemic of bronchiolitis
Another threat identified by health authorities: the return of bronchiolitis, a respiratory disease that affects babies and can lead them to hospital. Once again, the Scientific Council is sounding the alarm. “The bronchiolitis epidemic could be large,” he warns.
Children were less infected last year. They are therefore less well immunized. The instance notes a “significant acquired collective immunity deficit for children born after March 2020”.
Most of the time benign, this disease sometimes requires a visit to the emergency room, or even hospitalization. A large-scale epidemic could therefore weigh on health care systems that are already tested.
In France, the time has come for vigilance, while the trend is increasing. For the week of September 27, 1,278 emergency room visits for children under 2 years of age for bronchiolitis were recorded, 460 resulted in hospitalization, against 700 and 300 respectively at this period in a normal year.